Heavylift / Breakbulk
Beams on a group of wagons
The delivery of 14 beams made by ArcelorMittal, each with a length of almost 61 m, presented a particular challenge for rolling stock and railway lines. CFL Cargo and a German engineering firm cooperated to find the solution.
Every heavyweight transport is tricky, but not every one leads to a unique solution. At ArcelorMittal’s production site in Differdingen (Luxembourg), however, the transportation of steel beams, each of which was 60.6 m long, this was exactly the case. A special customised solution was needed. The 14 beams, all of which together weighed in at 380 t, were ordered by the Germany state railway corporation Deutsche Bahn, to construct a railway bridge in Dresden. The delivery was planned on a just-in-time basis.
The transport of a 60.914 m long steel beam by railway, offering a maximum load length of 25 m per wagon, appears to be ruled out from the start. Not at all, they thought in Luxembourg, and simply combined several wagons together. Each pair of beams was to be transported on a group of three wagons. Two carrier wagons, each 25 m long, sandwich an intermediate wagon 20 m in length, making a total length of 70 m for a group of wagons.
Equipment custom made by CFL
The transportation of these over-length beams was only possible thanks to the possibility of carrying them on custom-made pivoting and sliding cross-pieces fitted to the wagons. «This ensures that the beams remain straight during the journey, while the wagons underneath them can follow the curve of the railway tracks,» explained Fritz Crelo, CFL cargo’s loading expert and head wagon inspector, who personally accompanied the transport to Dresden.
The pivoting and sliding cross-pieces were custom made in CFL cargo’s workshops in Belval (Luxembourg). The beams were mounted in the middle of the wagon and fixed to a girder. Where this was not possible, both sides of the pivoting/sliding cross-pieces were attached to a fixing point, which formed a frame for the respective steel beam.
Several feasibility studies were needed to determine the route for such a special transport, not just on the national railway networks in Luxembourg and Germany, but also for the internal transport stretch at the plant site (concerning the questions of exceeding the loading gauge and the accessibility of factory halls, amongst others). Specific safety regulations had to be developed and observed during the reservation of the transport route.
Transport route and wagon sequence
At the end the sequence of wagons consisting of seven groups of wagons for the transportation of the 14 beams produced quite an armada. The 14 carrier wagons and seven intermediate wagons were each 70 m long per group of wagons, which added up to a total length of the wagon sequence of 493 m.
Each beam weighed 15.7 t, so two beams per pivot cross-piece came in at 31.4 t. Each group of wagons weighed almost 80 t unladen, so with its load each group of wagons weighed a total of 113 t. The whole wagon train weighed 545 t when unloaded, and loaded the whole transport weighed a total of 790 t.
A record-breaking project?
The adapted and customised wagons were moved from the Belval site to Differdingen to be loaded. After the seven wagon groups were loaded, CFL cargo carried out a technical inspection of the loaded wagons at the start and then the complete transport of the load from the starting station to Dresden Friedrichstadt, the target station. The train’s speed limit was 100 km/h.
The transport and beam lengths of this project are unique. Up until now, beams this long have not been transported over such a distance from the production site to the building site. In addition to this there were the customised wagons produced by CFL cargo.
«Such an extraordinary project requires the seamless cooperation of many different teams,» said Fernand Rippinger, CFL cargo’s chief executive officer. «Mastering this job was very exciting and thrilling. This is why we’ve decided to submit this project for an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records,» explained Fred Weissenburger, ArcelorMittal’s engineer in charge of the record-breaking project. «The application has already been sent off.»